Staging a play with a current message
by Lisa Tome
After staging nearly two dozen spring musicals at Perryville High School, directors Nathan Carns and Jill Welsheimer have learned to work with the talent that's available.
Since the school has strong vocal talent in 2018, the cast is tackling Les Miserables School Edition. The play, originally penned by Victor Hugo, is set following the French revolution. It tackles adult themes - imprisonment, prostitution, suicide.
Jordan Morris has been appearing in the musicals for six years, taking on roles as a middle schooler. "This is more realistic and more depressing," said Morris.
Senior Mia Hernandez said it's been a challenge. "There's nothing but singing. It's very different and tackles a lot of touching things - suicide and prostitution. We're mature enough. These are serious subjects and current topics," said Hernandez.
"This year the kids are right for it. It's all sung through and we have a lot of young men," said Welsheimer." It's harder to get boys, but the stars aligned. We have the perfect amount of good singers. This is not an easy show."
There are about 50 people in the cast. The crew consists of about eight people who have been building sets, painting, and working with lighting. Auditions were held in December and rehearsals began in January. There were some changes this year and accommodations that had to be made due to snow days. "We'll be ready. We're never not ready," said Welsheimer.
Junior John Murphy, who first appeared in a Perryville play as a third grader, is playing Jean Valjean. Jason Woods is Javert. Dale Watson is portraying the Bishop of Dogne. Alex Koons appears as Fantine. Other cast members include: Kaleigh Perez as Young Cosette, Maddie Overbay as Madame Thenardier, Matthew O'Neill as Thenardier, Perryville Middle School student Christopher Williams as Gavroche, Makynzie Barton as Eponine, Casey Brogan as Enjolras, Alex Hernandez as Marius, and Emma Coggins as Cosette. Large parts playing students are being portrayed by Vladimir Hubbs, Cooper Wilcox, Ethan Woodie, Bari McCluskey, Matt Saylor, Jacob Lewis, and Dale Watson.
The play is two acts and runs about two and a half hours. "I'm really excited about it. The kids are very talented and they've been working their butts off," said Karns. He said that when they aren't on stage, students are at sports practice, doing homework, or participating in other school activities such as National Honor Society.
Les Miserables School Edition will take to the stage at Perryville High on April 19, 20, and 21, all shows at 7 p.m. Reserved tickets are $12 each. General admission is $10 for adults and $8 per person for students and senior citizens. Call the school to reserve tickets.
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